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Drug dealer lives in home searched in missing Fox executive case

June 21, 2012 | 11:14 am

Gavin Smith search

Gavin SmithA man who lives at the West Hills home searched in connection with the disappearance of Gavin Smith said Thursday he had never met the missing 20th Century Fox executive.

John Creech lives at the home along with his wife, Chandrika Creech, who is listed in public records as the property owner. Chandrika Creech met Smith in therapy, according to a source familiar with the case who did not want to be named because the investigation is ongoing.

Detectives have long emphasized that their probe of Smith's disappearance is a missing person investigation and that there are few clues in the case.

But the tone of the investigation appeared, at least from the outside, to change June 8 when a SWAT team searched the West Hills home belonging to the Creeches.

The cover pages of a sealed search warrant affidavit that referenced the address of the home, signed by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge on May 21, said detectives had probable cause that an unspecified felony had been committed at the residence.

Investigators left the home, located in the 8600 block of Santa Susana Place, with boxes, a computer and a black Audi SUV, but no arrests were made.

When asked Thursday why his home was searched earlier this month, John Creech said: "I would love to tell you but I can't. I am told I cannot make any comments."

He added that he has "never met" Smith.

John Creech made the statements to Times reporters at Los Angeles County Superior Court, where he was scheduled to be sentenced on a single count of selling and transporting drugs. Instead, Judge Clifford Klein ordered that Creech remain in custody without bail pending a new sentencing date of July 26.

Creech faces up to 10 years in state prison.

Authorities have not divulged how the Creeches relate to the Smith case.

When the search of the home was conducted, Lt. Dave Dolson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide division said the warrant was one of several that have been served in the hunt for Smith.

Daniel Teola, an attorney for the Creeches, said this was the second time in a month that deputies had searched the house, but refused to discuss the case.

Smith, a former UCLA basketball player who works in Fox's movie distribution department, left a friend's home in Ventura County's Oak Park neighborhood the night of May 1. Wearing purple athletic pants belonging to one of his sons, Smith drove away in his Mercedes, leaving behind his cellphone charger, shaving kit and other items.

"It doesn't sound like he was going anywhere," his eldest son, Evan, told "Good Morning America."

Search teams have combed the areas where Smith was last seen, and his family spread word of his disappearance online and on local movie screens. He was reportedly spotted at a Morro Bay restaurant in May, but Dolson later said it proved “not to be a credible sighting.”

Smith's family — wife Lisa and sons Evan, Austin and Dylan — have offered a $20,000 reward for information about Smith. In interviews last month, they declined to elaborate on why Smith was staying with the friend instead of at the family home in West Hills, but Evan Smith had previously tweeted that his father had left the family.

"Thoughts and prayers out to my amazing Mom and bros plz," he wrote in an April 14 message. "My dad decided to leave the family last nite. Real family sticks together."

The tweet was later deleted, but Evan Smith told E! News his parents were not separated and were “just going through normal stuff couples go through.”

Lisa Smith called her husband "the love of my life” at a June 5 news conference.

"It's imperative we find him," she said.


Missing Fox executive's sons vow to search 'until we find him'

Mystery deepens in disappearance of Hollywood exec Gavin Smith

Gavin Smith: No arrests after SWAT team searches Canoga Park home

-- Melissa Leu, Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein

Photos, from top: An Audi SUV is impounded as sheriff's officials investigating the disappearance of  20th Century Fox executive Gavin Smith search a West Hills home on June 8; Gavin Smith. Credits: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department